Despite a guilty plea on cocaine charges, Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) insists he won’t resign and will likely avoid disciplinary action from House Republicans.
But an ethics watchdog filed a complaint against the Republican lawmaker, saying he should be expelled.
An aide told Politico that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) met Tuesday with Radel after news broke that the freshman lawmaker had been arrested Oct. 29 on drug charges as part of a federal sting.
Radel had set up the meeting before his arrest hit the news, the aide said, but it was reported shortly before he met with Boehner.
The aide said Boehner wouldn’t likely ask Radel, who was sentenced to one year of probation and must undergo substance abuse treatment in Florida, to give up his post and that the arrest would likely be treated as a substance abuse issue.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint against Radel on Thursday with the Office of Congressional Ethics, saying that the lawmaker’s actions blatantly conflicted with his vote to require some welfare recipients to pass drug tests.
“The remarkably sympathetic treatment Rep. Radel is receiving from the House Republican conference stands in stark contrast to the treatment of low-level, mostly poor and minority drug offenders,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW executive director. “What is more hypocritical than voting to drug test food stamp and public housing recipients, but brushing aside the drug use of House members?”
The watchdog group also noted that House Republicans’ failure to discipline Radel, who plans to take a leave of absence, contradicted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) avowed “zero-tolerance” policy on ethics violations.
The group said Radel’s conduct violates the Code of Ethics for Government Service and House Rule 23, which requires all members to conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.”
CREW also asked in its complaint for an investigation to determine who introduced Radel, a Cincinnati native who’d been in Washington less than a year, to a drug dealer.
The group also wants to know with whom Radel would share the 3.5 grams of cocaine he purchased during the bust, as the charging documents indicate he intended.
“Did members of Congress or congressional staff facilitate the purchase of or use cocaine with Rep. Radel?” CREW asked.